You can go home again. If your home is Cleveland.
Mike Brown and his family had already decided to move out of Los Angeles and go back to Cleveland before the opportunity to coach the Cavaliers fell in his lap, but now he has a job to go back to. The Cavaliers made it official and announced Brown as their coach early Wednesday morning.
“I am more than excited about Mike Brown’s return to the Cleveland Cavaliers,” said Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert in a released statement. “Mike has done nothing but win in this league since he was a first-year assistant many years ago. He is going to instill a much-needed defensive-first philosophy in our young and talented team that is going to serve as our foundation and identity as we continue down the path of building the kind of franchise that competes at a championship level for many years to come.”
Gilbert was frustrated with the lack of defense the young Cavaliers played under Byron Scott (they finished 26th in the league in defensive efficiency) and that combined with the way he seemed to lose the team at the end of the season did him in.
Brown has a five-year, $20 million contract, although the last year of that reportedly can be bought out cheaply. Expect the Cavaliers to force him to hire an offensive-minded assistant coach to run that end of the court for the team, putting in something a little more innovative than what Brown falls back on.
One side question is how much this impacts the fate of Mike D’Antoni — the Lakers owed $8 million over the next two seasons to Brown but now likely owe little if anything to him (depends on the wording of the contract but the league does not allow coaches to double-dip in these instances, the Lakers likely just owe the difference between the deals). One of the reasons D’Antoni was considered safe is the Lakers didn’t want to fire him and be paying three coaches at once. But now with Brown basically off the books, the Lakers have less financial reason to hang on to D’Antoni. I do not think this means they fire him (unless Dwight Howard plays that card during contract negotiations, and he is already trying to shake a coach killer reputation so don’t bet on it) but I think D’Antoni’s leash just got a lot shorter.